…never happened when I was married, which makes me feel vulnerable in a way I can’t totally explain. It’s as though in addition to everything else I lost in my divorce, I’ve also lost some invisible layer of protection I didn’t know I had. Even more troubling, it feels as though I may have lost the mark of decency, of dignity, of worth. Now that everyone knows I’m single, it seems I’m fair game for whatever.
This really resonates. I’m ending my second marriage — we’re actively separating and not yet divorced. It’s been going on three months since we made the decision to separate and still, only a handful of people know. Mostly family and a few close friends. I realized that subconsciously I am terrified of the news going public not because of the (inevitable) judgement, but because I am scared of being approached by men or potential partners. I never found my identity in my marriage, but you describe it perfectly: it’s like a safety blanket, a layer of protection that for some reason other men generally respect. I’m still wearing my ring. It gives me a sense of safety. I’m scared of taking it off.